Ranking the Top 50 NBA Draft Prospects in 2020: Where Does Lamelo Ball Rank?
It's time to move on from summer league and start preparing to scout for the 2020 NBA draft.
The next projected class should come with plenty of interesting storylines, including LaMelo Ball's season in Australia, a wide-open race for No. 1, numerous international standouts and a deep group of guards.
Over the next month, teams will start making exhibition trips overseas, which will represent the first real opportunity to scout incoming freshmen and identify breakout candidates.
50. Neemias Queta (Utah State, C, Sophomore)
Scouts should have tuned into July's U20 European Champion B division for Queta, who earned an invite to May's NBA combine but didn't do much during scrimmages. For Portugal, he averaged 14.3 points, 11.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks. Mostly all physical tools—7'0", 7'4" wingspan, 226 pounds—Queta will use the year to show he's improved his skill level and defensive presence.
49. Aaron Henry (Michigan State, SG, Sophomore)
Henry should be looking at more than 4.8 shots per game this year. The 6'6" guard has some untapped shot-creation and scoring potential, so it will be interesting to see how it unfolds with extra touches coming his way. Henry only averaged 6.1 points last season, but he could turn into a key option for one of the nation's premier teams.
48. Tyler Bey (Colorado, SF/PF, Junior)
Bey racked up 17 double-doubles as a sophomore, relying mostly on athleticism and effort for production. He's not great in crowds and still isn't a shooting threat, though it was promising to see his free-throw mark rise to 78.2 percent. Teams could eventually give him a look as an energizing reserve.
47. Ayo Dosunmu (Illinois, PG/SG, Sophomore)
Dosunmu popped during select games last year with his 6'5" size and combo-guard versatility. He'll want to become a more threatening pick-and-roll ball-handler (30th percentile) and pull-up shooter (25.5 percent) to warrant first-round consideration.
46. Xavier Johnson (Pittsburgh, PG, Sophomore)
A 6'3" power guard able to explode off hesitation moves, Johnson can wow with blow-by drives, acrobatic finishes, pull-up shooting and aggressive defense. His weaknesses are tough to get past, though, after he shot 42.4 percent at the rim, went 8-of-37 on runners and hit 29.1 percent of his catch-and-shoot chances while averaging 4.0 turnovers.
Still, he'll have a chance to move up boards by improving his touch and decision-making while playing in the ACC.
45. Myles Powell (Seton Hall, SG, Senior)
After averaging 23.1 points and 3.1 three-pointers, Powell figures to return as one of college basketball's top scorers and most prolific shooters. He's only 6'2" without burst or bounce, but his shot-making range and versatility create specialist potential at the NBA level.
44. Aaron Nesmith (Vanderbilt, SF, Sophomore)
Nesmith put together a handful of sporadic scoring outbursts as a freshman in the SEC, finishing with 20-plus points against South Carolina, Tennessee, Auburn and Florida. With solid 6'6" size, he averaged 2.5 threes per 40 minutes and flashed promising defensive quickness. Raising his 39.2 field-goal percentage and improving inside the arc will be key for the breakout candidate's draft stock.
43. Paul Reed (DePaul, PF, Junior)
Another step forward for the Big East's Most Improved Player could result in new NBA attention. An athletic, 6'9" forward, Reed has always made highlight finishes around the rim, but he also improved his touch to hit 15 of 37 threes and 77.0 percent of his free throws as a sophomore. He'll want to show more putting the ball on the floor and executing in crowds.
42. Charles Bassey (Western Kentucky, C, Sophomore)
Bassey doesn't possess modern-day big man skills, so he'll need to return as a more dominant and impactful force inside at both ends. Or, he can show he's improved his shooting and added to his one-on-one scoring moves—other than those with his back to the basket—from the elbows and short corners.
41. Killian Tillie (Gonzaga, PF, Senior)
With Rui Hachimura, Brandon Clarke, Zach Norvell Jr. and Josh Perkins moving on, there won't be a shortage of available shots for Tillie, a career 47.0 percent three-point shooter. Staying healthy remains priority No. 1 after he played just 15 games last year. He's not an exciting athlete, and foot trouble may make some uneasy. But his shooting, general skill level and basketball IQ create NBA role-player vibes.
40. Dru Smith (Missouri, PG/SG, Junior)
Missouri has been hyping up the Evansville transfer who sat out the 2018-19 season. Only one other player since 1992 was able to average at least four assists and two steals while registering a 70 true shooting percentage. Smith is unconventional and a below-average athlete, but the 6'3", 200-pound guard's shooting efficiency, passing and defense put him atop our preseason sleeper list.
39. Samuell Williamson (Louisville, SF, Freshman)
Williamson stands out as a long-term NBA prospect for his 6'7" size and ability to create and make shots in the mid-to-long range. He may not be ready for the 2020 draft, but he'll earn a spot on watch lists with his scoring versatility.
38. Jordan Nwora (Louisville, SF, Junior)
A 6'7", 225-pound wing, Nwora has become worth scouting for his positional tools and confident shooting. He's streaky with questionable shot selection and passing, but scouts could see an NBA shot-maker here.
37. Devon Dotson (Kansas, PG, Sophomore)
Dotson will use his second year at Kansas to improve his scoring in the lane (2-of-10 on runners) and pull-up shooting (6-of-20). He'll draw looks as a potential change-of-pace guard for his speed, setup passing and pesky defense.
36. Cassius Winston (Michigan State, PG, Senior)
Winston figures to make a run at 2020 National Player of the Year while strengthening his case to NBA scouts. He has obvious limitations as a 6'1", below-the-rim guard turning 22 before the draft. But his floor game, shooting and passing are near elite for a college guard. He also has one of the best floaters out there, making 43 of them at a 51.2 percent clip last year.
35. A.J. Lawson (South Carolina, SG, Sophomore)
Lawson only shot 35.8 percent from three last year, but the eye test loves his shooting stroke and rhythm, and he just buried 21 threes in seven games (39.6 percent) at the U19 World Cup. His perimeter game and passing are intriguing, though he has some major improvements to make as a finisher (50.0 percent), pull-up threat (29.4 percent) and isolation scorer (2-of-10).
34. Isaiah Joe (Arkansas, SG, Sophomore)
Joe became one of four freshmen since 1992 to make at least 110 threes and shoot over 40.0 percent from deep. Stephen Curry and Jamal Murray were two of the other three. Joe isn't a scoring threat around the basket or a playmaker, but his shot-making accuracy, preparation and versatility create three-point-specialist potential.
33. Trendon Watford (LSU, SF, Freshman)
Watford possesses an appealing mix of 6'9", 230-pound size and athleticism for a forward. But he projects as more of a wing and, at this point, isn't particularly skilled around the perimeter. As a freshman, he'll pick up easy baskets and runners in the lane off transition and slashes. Watford could need two years to max out his draft stock by improving his three-ball and pull-up game.
32. Kahlil Whitney (Kentucky, SG/SF, Freshman)
Whitney passes the eye test with 6'6" size and athleticism for a wing. His positional tools and shooting stroke should pop at Kentucky. Questions about his passing, decision-making and general consistency have Whitney lower on the board than where his talent suggests he could be.
31. Patrick Williams (Florida State, PF, Freshman)
Williams' 6'8" size and explosion are ahead of his half-court skills, though he appears confident in his ability to make outside shots. Depending on how far away he looks as a creator and shooter, Williams could be a 2020 lottery pick—or, more likely, a prospect for 2021.
30. Trevelin Queen (New Mexico State, SF, Senior)
A junior college transfer, Queen joined New Mexico State in December and wound up turning heads in March when he scored 27 points against Grand Canyon in the conference tournament before going for 14 points and six assists against Auburn in the NCAA tournament.
His per-40-minute numbers were eye-catching: 20.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 2.6 steals and 2.0 blocks on 60.3 percent shooting inside the arc. A 6'6" wing, Queen checks boxes with shot-making and passing skill plus impressive defensive playmaking ability. He's poised for a bigger role and a breakout season.
29. Malcolm Cazalon (France, SG, 2001)
Athletic, long and left-handed, Cazalon can convince scouts with flash plays over consistency at his age. Per 40 minutes last month at the U18 European Championships, he averaged 20.3 points, 4.8 assists, 4.3 steals and 2.5 three-pointers. He's an athletic slasher with shot-making and passing potential, but he needs to refine his skill level.
28. Grant Riller (Charleston, PG, Senior)
One of nation's most dangerous players with the ball, Riller averaged 21.9 points and 4.1 assists last year, grading in the 98th percentile running pick-and-rolls and the 89th percentile out of isolation. He plays somewhat upright, plus his three-ball fell to 32.9 percent as a junior, so it's no secret where he'll need to improve.
27. Jalen Smith (Maryland, PF, Sophomore)
Scouts will be interested in seeing how much Smith's body and skill level have developed since last year. He flashed potential as a post scorer and shooter, but not consistent execution. With NBA-caliber physical tools, motor and touch, he's easy to picture as a future role-playing big, but Smith will want to raise his 33.0 jump-shot percentage and 0.9 assists per game.
26. Bryan Antoine (Villanova, SG, Freshman)
A quick-twitch 2-guard, Antoine applies pressure by attacking and defending, and he's flashed enough skill with his ball-handling, floaters and shooting. He's notably thin at 6'5", 170 pounds, so we'll be watching how well he executes as a finisher and contested scorer.
25. Tre Jones (Duke, PG, Sophomore)
Jones could be one of the nation's most impactful guards with his pressure defense and high-level decision-making from the point. Solidifying himself as a first-rounder will mean taking a sizable step forward as a scorer (11.0 points per 40), but more importantly as a shooter (0.9 three-pointers per 40, 26.2 percent).
24. Tyrese Haliburton (Iowa State, PG, Sophomore)
Haliburton created breakout hype this summer at the U19 World Cup when he averaged 6.9 assists and 2.3 steals on 55.6 percent shooting from three. His lack of athleticism and two-point scoring ability create upside concerns, but he flashed improved shot-creation with step-back jumpers in July.
There is role-player value tied to his shooting, passing IQ and defensive playmaking. His usage should jump next season after Iowa State lost four of its top five scorers, including second-round picks Talen Horton-Tucker and Marial Shayok.
23. Oscar Tshiebwe (West Virginia, C, Freshman)
Physical, explosive and energetic at 6'9", 245 pounds, Tshiebwe will immediately become one of college basketball's most daunting interior enforcers. We're still waiting to assess how far along he is in terms of skill level and feel for the game, areas that could swing his stock in either direction after the first month or so.
22. Precious Achiuwa (Memphis, SF/PF, Freshman)
A 6'9", 215-pound combo forward, Achiuwa's physical profile, athleticism and flashes of versatility will earn attention. He's still on the raw side, lacking advanced shot-creation moves and jump-shot consistency. But he's an effective slasher and cutter with promising defensive tools, and he's flashed enough glimpses of pull-up and set shooting to leave room for optimism.
21. Wendell Moore (Duke, SG/SF, Freshman)
Moore, who won't turn 18 until mid-September, could be one of 2020's youngest prospects, which will help buy him time with scouts for his outside shooting. Otherwise, he still needs to improve as a shot-creator, but he finds ways to score efficiently off the ball by moving without it and staying active. He's a power wing with touch and finesse who could play a key role for Duke.
20. Vernon Carey Jr. (Duke, C, Freshman)
Listed at 6'10", 270 pounds, Carey first stands out for his physical tools and strength around the basket. But over the years, he's added skill and touch. His value in this draft will come down to his defensive mobility, rim protection and shooting development.
19. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (Villanova, PF, Freshman)
Robinson-Earl is coming off a strong U19 World Cup (25.3 points, 12.5 rebounds per 40 minutes) after going for 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the GEICO Nationals championship game for IMG. Though not overly flashy, he runs the floor hard, finishes well and shows promising touch when set for catch-and-shoot jump shots.
18. Romeo Weems (DePaul, SF, Freshman)
Weems fits the profile of a sleeper freshman capable of unexpectedly working his way onto 2020 draft boards. He'll create buzz with his 6'6", 220-pound size and functional athleticism that translates to explosive dunks and off-ball plays at both ends.
He's missing a signature, bankable skill, but he'll convert attention into interest with enough flashes of the ball-handling moves, passes and set three-pointers that contributed to triple-doubles in high school.
17. Matthew Hurt (Duke, PF, Freshman)
Hurt has skill suited for today's NBA, but does he have the strength and athleticism? At 6'8", 214 pounds, his footwork off the dribble and smooth perimeter shot-making set him apart from other bigs. He'll either move up or down the board based on how effective he is inside and how well he defends tougher centers and quicker forwards.
16. Tyrese Maxey (Kentucky, PG/SG, Freshman)
A pure scorer, Maxey finds ways to make shots as a driver and shooter. He measured just 6'2½" at the Nike Hoop Summit, so scouts will hope to see Maxey show what he can do as a facilitator. He can make the right passes and heat up from three. His consistency with both skills will determine how far he moves up or down throughout the season.
15. Amar Sylla (Senegal, PF/C, 2001)
Sylla will move on from Real Madrid's junior team to BC Oostende of the Belgian Pro Basketball League, where he'll have a bigger role during his first draft-eligible year. He's made watch lists over the years, standing out for his 6'9" size, 7'3" wingspan, bounce at the rim, defensive range and flashes of ball-handling and shooting.
Though still a project, Sylla has enough production and strong performances to back up the theoretical potential.
14. Isaac Okoro (Auburn, SF, Freshman)
Okoro will earn immediate minutes and praise from scouts for his defense, effort, offensive versatility and unselfishness. He'll guard positions 1-4. He can make set shots, pass well and battle under the boards. His game isn't suited to pop during high school All-Star settings, and he isn't likely to produce sexy stats at Auburn.
But Okoro stands out for his role-player potential, which could go a long way in this draft if there aren't many breakout returning prospects. More flashes of grab-and-go ball-handling, Eurostepping and shooting will only point to extra upside.
13. Josh Green (Arizona, SG/SF, Freshman)
An athletic and well-rounded wing, Green will crack first-round boards with versatility.
At 6'6", he's an open-floor ball-handler, half-court slasher and capable shooter who can guard multiple positions. The fear is that he isn't overly advanced in any one area, including shot-creation and shot-making. With Brandon Williams out for the season, per Stadium's Jeff Goodman, Green could be looking at more chances to work on his off-the-dribble game.
12. Isaiah Stewart (Washington, C, Freshman)
At 6'9", 245 pounds, Stewart uses his powerful frame and motor to overwhelm around the basket as a finisher and rebounder. He's an easy-basket machine off transition, dump-offs, lobs and missed shots, but he's also flashed mid-range touch. More of an old-school big without a face-up game, Stewart's ceiling doesn't scream All-Star, but a high floor should keep him locked into the first round.
11. Scottie Lewis (Florida, SG/SF, Freshman)
Lewis figures to earn fans with his explosiveness, defense and intangibles. He's vocal and highly competitive. But his offensive efficiency will determine how high he moves up draft boards.
The incoming freshman has the ability to create and make shots as a slasher and mid-range scorer. He's quick slicing through windows and capable of knocking down off-balance jumpers. He also has a tendency to force drives and settle for low-percentage two-point shots.
10. Jaden McDaniels (Washington, PF, Freshman)
Jaden McDaniels' talent and skill versatility suggest he should be closer to the top five. However, his impact and execution aren't always consistent, so that's what he'll need to show more of during what will likely be his only season at Washington.
For a 6'9" forward, McDaniels' game screams mismatch with ball-handling ability in the open floor, a smooth shooting stroke and the ability to create for himself. His defensive tools and range are also promising and point to valuable switchability.
Will he be a highlights-over-substance player? Can he contribute during games in which his jumper won't fall?
Those are the question marks that could push McDaniels down into the 20s. But consistent flashes of inside-out scoring, effort translating to easy baskets and defensive concentration could move him closer to the top of the board.
9. Nico Mannion (Arizona, PG, Freshman)
Nico Mannion's 28 points, five rebounds and five assists at the Nike Hoop Summit served as validation. Whether he needed it was up for debate. But after that event, it became clear he was one of the class' top prospects.
The 6'3" point guard should have enough size and athleticism for his offensive skills to work against NBA defenses, though a lack of strength, length and burst do raise questions.
Still, Mannion's ball-handling and changes of speed are effective for driving and separating into jumpers and floaters. He's a dual-threat off the dribble, able to get his own one-on-one or make plays for teammates while demonstrating an admirable balance of scoring and passing.
He'll also wind up distinguishing himself among guard prospects with accurate and versatile shooting off pull-ups, step-backs, spot-ups and screens.
Finishing at the rim and defending strong ball-handlers will pose challenges for Mannion. Questions about his NBA upside are sure to surface. But he'll look too well-rounded, competitive and, presumably, productive.
Mannion comes off as one of the safe bets to stick around the late-lottery discussion.
8. RJ Hampton (New Zealand Breakers, PG/SG, 2001)
Playing with the New Zealand Breakers, RJ Hampton shouldn't wind up moving too far in either direction from his current spot on the board. He's unlikely to put up big numbers or cause any panic, being a teenager in a pro league likely working in an off-ball role.
He'll draw crowds of scouts throughout the season for his 6'5" size, shot-creation skills and shot-making capability. Hampton is advanced with the ball, able to separate into pull-ups and step-backs, as well as navigate through defenses to the rim with change of direction and nifty footwork.
With an impressive finishing repertoire of counter maneuvers, Hampton's three-level scoring stands out, and though more of a 2 than a natural 1, his ability to create fuels enough playmaking potential for a transition into a lead guard.
The Breakers roster underwent a lot of changes since last season, so it's difficult to predict Hampton's game-to-game role. Odds are, he'll shoot a low percentage from three while adjusting to standing around more, but enough flash plays offensively, plus his strong reputation off the floor, will keep him in the lottery conversation.
7. James Wiseman (Memphis, C, Freshman)
There will be scouts who have James Wiseman No. 1 on their boards to start the season. Athleticism, 7'1", 240-pound size, a 7'6" wingspan and an expanding skill set create enormous theoretical upside.
He'll have a year at Memphis to prove he's on track toward reaching that star-level ceiling. That will mean answering questions about the legitimacy of his jump shot, defensive impact and motor.
Wiseman helped himself last spring, particularly at the Nike Hoop Summit, where he finished with 12 points, eight rebounds and six blocks. He gave scouts glimpses of his coordinated finishes, budding moves from the post and ability to protect the rim.
Offensively, he does have speciality shots in his bag like pull-up jumpers and fallaways. And he can make the occasional set three-pointer. Although, he can also appear too interested at times in showing scouts those lower-percentage shots.
Defensively, while he's still a work in progress reading pick-and-roll coverage, his size and length can make it difficult for opposing guards to get uncontested layups.
Talent plus enough flashes of skill, inside and out, point to No.1 overall potential for 2020. Before slotting him there, however, I'm going to wait for him to prove it with consistent impact, execution and effort at the NCAA level.
6. LaMelo Ball (Illawarra Hawks, PG/SG, 2001)
One of the biggest questions of the 2020 draft asks whether there is substance behind LaMelo Ball's flash and name recognition.
Scouts will be camped out in Australia to find out. This year represents a major test for Ball, as well as a rare scouting opportunity for evaluators, since the 17-year-old has no FIBA experience and didn't play in any of the high school All-Star showcases. Teams will be eager to assess Ball's professionalism and ability to play in a structured offense with and against men and former NBA players.
I'm expecting his physical tools and skill versatility to ultimately outshine the bad shots, turnovers and lack of strength.
The 6'6" ball-handler has gotten taller and bouncier over the years. He's added coordinated finishes to his layup package. He's an advanced and willing passer despite a tendency to attempt hero jump shots. Ball isn't a consistent shooter, and some of his misses can be way off, but he's a high-level shot-maker out to NBA range.
His style isn't for everyone, but as a scoring playmaker, he is suited for the point guard spot in today's NBA.
I'm also putting more stock in what he can do at this age versus correctable weaknesses that need improvement, like shot selection, decision-making and on-ball defense. As long as no red flags pop up about character or work ethic overseas, Ball should be a good bet to work his way into 2020's top 10.
5. Killian Hayes (France, PG, 2001)
Teams have had eyes on Killian Hayes since 2017, when he was co-MVP of the Jordan Brand International game and MVP of the U16 European Championships.
He's had highs and lows since, winning MVP of France's U21 Espoirs League and making the All-Tournament team at the 2018 World Cup but also shooting just 18.2 percent from three last season in the Jeep Elite league.
This year, he'll move on to play with Ratiopharm Ulm in the German BBL and Eurocup. There will be a lot of focus on his jump shot, because it's a glaring weapon missing from a package of 6'5" size, ball-handling, advanced passes, coordinated finishes and defensive potential.
He's a crafty player off the dribble, and if he can start to raise his outside shooting percentages—which seems possible based on his fluidity and 82.0 percent free-throw mark—Hayes figures to become a trendy riser on draft boards.
4. Theo Maledon (France, PG, 2001)
Theo Maledon jumped into the 2020 lottery discussion while efficiently contributing as a starter in the Jeep Elite league and Eurocup at 17 years old.
He'd been on the radar the past couple of years with strong performances at the Jordan Brand International game and FIBA, but this past season, his point guard poise and shooting stood out at a pro level.
He doesn't wow with bounce or wiggle; instead, Maledon effectively changes speeds and adjusts on finishes to compensate for a lack of burst. Though not an explosive playmaker, he's a smart passer who can make the right reads. And he made a combined 38.6 percent of his three-pointers this season with a quick, projectable release.
Some will cast doubt over his ability to create separation or turn the corner. He doesn't blow by, elevate over defenders for jumpers or dunk often. But while upside for many young guards is fueled by explosiveness, it's Maledon's skill level, basketball IQ and tools that hint at sneaky-high potential at the position.
3. Deni Avdija (Israel, SF/PF, 2001)
Deni Avdija starts the season top-three following his MVP performance at the U20 European Championships.
He's become the talk of the 2020 draft this summer by carrying Israel to a gold medal, averaging 18.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.4 blocks and 2.1 steals along the way.
Offenses can run through the 6'8" combo forward, a confident pull-up scorer with strong playmaking skills and IQ. Signs of improving defense and anticipation have also started to appear, as he did a nice job using his tools to make plays last month in Tel Aviv.
Hero-shot selection is often behind his inconsistent shooting. And he's had trouble finishing through rim protection at the basket. Some may see star potential, while others could envision more of a jack-of-all-trades role player.
He's too accomplished for us, however, to put significant stock in the 18-year-old's weaknesses right now.
2. Cole Anthony (North Carolina, PG, Freshman)
Stepping into Coby White's role at North Carolina (No. 6 in pace, per KenPom.com), Cole Anthony finds himself in prime position to produce and fully showcase his high-level scoring skills and playmaking potential.
Scouts should already have a comprehensive feel for the incoming freshman from all the camps he's attended, his time with USA basketball (gold medal in 2018) and MVP showings at 2019's Nike Hoop Summit, McDonald's All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic.
I recently drove out to scout him at the GEICO Nationals, where his strengths (30 points vs. Wasatch) and weaknesses (4-of-16 vs. La Lumiere) were on display.
An explosive point guard, Anthony is ball-dominator who'll initiate the majority of his offense's possessions, either off ball screens or isolation. He's a scorer first, able to create separation into pull-up and step-back jumpers or drives into runners and layups.
In 30 logged games between AAU, FIBA and high school All-Star events, RealGM.com has him at 42.2 percent from three and 87.4 percent from the free-throw line.
He's still learning how to balance scoring with playmaking, as hero mode tends to activate too often, and Anthony gets caught over-dribbling or locked in with the rim. Whether he can make teammates better will be the question scouts ask throughout the season.
But in terms of talent, skill and work ethic, plus the stats he'll probably put up, Anthony figures to be one of the surest top-five bets and a candidate to go No. 1.
1. Anthony Edwards (Georgia, SG, Freshman)
Talent gives Anthony Edwards the edge at No. 1 to start the season, but his scoring skills are starting to catch his power and athleticism.
The 6'5", 225-pound guard has a tremendous physical profile for transition, slashing and defense. It buys him extra time to develop the fundamentals.
Still, Edwards can score off speciality moves and jumpers, using pull-ups, step-back and jab-step footwork to separate and exhibiting encouraging shot-making fluidity in the mid-to-long range.
He's flashed untapped playmaking potential as well, particularly as a pick-and-roll ball-handler.
Holding firm at No. 1 will mean showing he can impact winning. He's had games in high school when he was silenced by double-teams or struggled to get into the flow playing off the ball.
He'll get his stats and highlights at Georgia to keep him locked into the top-five mix. But Edwards should go No. 1 if he can elevate the Bulldogs just enough.